Giant Food is less than an impressive, according to some locals.
Map courtesy: Google Maps 2011

The Yelp part of this title was originally meant to refer to the strange democratizing effect of a ranking system that puts, say, the Embassy of the Republic of Hungary alongside Adas Israel Congregation and Yogiberry, as if, when exploring a neighborhood, one might decide to have a frozen yogurt instead of visit a synagogue based on the number of stars awarded by strangers. Sidebar question: Might there be some better local Embassy of the Republic of Hungary from which to obtain a visa should the reviews be subpar?

Yes, I understand this is not quite the point of Yelp. But let’s set aside that Yelp, for a moment, and switch instead, to the proper usage of the word, as uttered, for example, when one picks up the Washington Post and learns that the neighborhood that is the subject of this blog post has seen the registry of 151 guns since the Supreme Court ended the District’s handgun ban in 2008. No other zip code in D.C. has seen as big of an influx. “Mine are loaded—locked and cocked…” said one gun owner interviewed for the front page article. Yelp!

With a bullet-proof vest, then, we will travel one mile from where we left off, at the Glover Park Whole Foods, to the Giant Foods at 3336 Wisconsin Ave. Along the way sits, arguably, the most spectacular edifice along the entire bloggable stretch from Georgetown to Fredrick: the Washington National Cathedral. Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone when construction began on this neo-gothic structure in 1907. It is the sixth largest cathedral in the world, the second largest in the United States. Even if you are not a cathedral enthusiast it is worth a visit. Even if you are not a painter it is worth trying to capture its flying buttresses on a stretch of canvas, in various slants of light. It’s also a great place to view fireworks on the 4th of July if you are too lazy to go down to the Mall. If you look it up on Yelp—and I don’t know why you would unless you were going to compare it to the other Washington National Cathedrals—you will see that it gets high marks: 4.5 stars out of 5. (If you are curious to know why some people did not award it the full fleet stars, the answer involves the transportation woes involved in getting there.)

There is also a cluster of good restaurants along this stretch. Café Deluxe, Cactus Cantina, and the always jam-packed Two Amy’s, among them. They are all highly ranked on Yelp, too. Whereas the local Giant Food is not: a shoddy 1.5 stars with a long list of complaints. Nevertheless this much-maligned grocery store has been the subject of a years-long, sometimes vitriolic neighborhood feud as it is part of a redevelopment project called Cathedral Commons that has finally been given the thumbs up and is slated to begin construction…well no one is quite sure when, but possibly next fall.

Here are some pull quotes from the reviews of the grocery store from Yelp:

“This is one of the most depressing supermarkets I’ve ever encountered…antique vegetables. What a concept!”

“Absolutely dreadful. Turn around, get back in your car.”

“The Soviet Giant.”

“My complete disgust and annoyance for this place is so high that I feel the need to share my hatred with all of you…”

Yelp! It may offer a bit of insight into why a neighborhood takes up arms.